Asperger's syndrome: evidence of an empirical distinction from high-functioning autism

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1991 Nov;32(7):1107-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.1991.tb00352.x.


This study compared the neuropsychological profiles of individuals with high-functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger's syndrome (AS). In comparison with matched controls, both groups were impaired on executive function tests. Only the HFA group demonstrated deficits in theory of mind and verbal memory, performing more poorly than both controls and AS subjects. These results suggest that: (1) HFA and AS are empirically distinguishable on measures independent of diagnostic criteria, and (2) impairment on theory of mind measures is not universally found among individuals with autistic spectrum conditions. The primacy of executive function and theory of mind deficits to autism is discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychological Tests*